Counseling & Writing

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(307) 730-4793

March 7th, 2024

Welcome to my Blog

An Introduction:

You're probably wondering why I'd include writing with counseling.  For me they are intertwined.  My love for the humanities in my early college years eventually led me to become a counselor.  I always thought I'd either be a writer, an english teacher, or a counselor.  A deep desire to understand the human mind and behavior is only one aspect that lead me here.  What really drew me toward this field was my desire to meaningfully connect with others one-on-one, just as I am able to do with a beloved character in a novel, or an author of a memoir who has triumphed over strife. I craved art, music, philosophy, and naturally, literature and composition, in community college, and still do.  What happens in the therapy room often feels to me as powerful as what happens in an amazing piece of literature.  In the therapy room people become brave.  In fact, they are the bravest people I get to spend time with because they are willing to explore their pain and fears in order to heal so they can live courageous and meaningful lives. How on earth could I not be attracted to counseling?  That would be like having no interest in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," or John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."  In conclusion, as I see it, counseling is about examining our whole human selves and not just our mental health diagnosis or our mental illness with society's stigma attached.  Isn't that what so much great literature is about too?  We are much more complex than the labels or diagnoses we are given. And we want to be seen and understood just like your favorite fictional character or autobiographical writer.  


What is Counseling? 

For me, there is no simple definition for counseling. It is a personal experience that has different meanings for different people. Some people come in for counseling who are looking for relief from their symptoms. Others come in to work on specific goals for personal enrichment and growth. Many come in unsure about what they really want to see change but feel the need to explore their thoughts, feelings, and relationship.  Some people wait until they have reached a low level of functioning due to debilitating symptoms or unresolved painful life experiences.  In my experience, these people often feel better just from unloading their burden for the first time on someone who will listen without judgement. If you decide to try counseling, remember it is your own personal experience and no one can define what it means to you. That is how and when the healing starts--when you take ownership of your own experience.  

April 28, 2023

This week's letter to the editor

February 24, 2023

Creativity as a Therapeutic Path

When I was a kid I had trouble fitting in, and I am grateful for that. What? Grateful? How is that possible and what is she getting at? you may be wondering.  This is my answer and of course it's not my own.  Whatever joys and pains we go through in life brings us to where we are now.  That can be good. That can be bad. But since nothing about being a human being is black and white, it is both good and bad and we all fall somewhere on the spectrum.  

There is a therapy approach called Internal Family Systems in which the therapist helps the client see that their internal system is made up of a family of parts.  That is, our personality parts and the relationships between them that make up who we are.  We are not this way or that way, in spite of how much others slap labels on us, or place us in neat little boxes to soothe their own minds.  Being labeled or judged became an early trigger in childhood because I hadn't had the time to figure out who I was. That is what we all need; time, patience, unconditional love, and understanding to figure out who we are and our place and purpose in the world.   

What I came to understand about myself after I grew up was that I was a sensitive kid with a vivid imagination, and according to my older half sister, unusually serious for a three year old.  Naturally, this made me stand out in school. Kindergarten was mostly good because I had a teacher with a heart of gold.  School was pretty much downhill after that until my later high school years.  So what does this have to do with creativity as a therapeutic path? For me--everything. 

It didn't seem to matter what I was creating.  A story. A piano piece. A nature trail (there's not a whole lot of nature in L.A. so one has to open up their mind to create one). A club. A backyard fair. A treasure hunt. A Halloween party. A Halloween story. Halloween costumes. Seriously--one year my bestie and I were a pair of die, our costumes made from freight boxes and paint.  Anyway, the list goes on, but what matters is what happened to me when I was creating.  

When I was making something stemming from an idea or a compilation of ideas, I was truly in my happiest of  happy places.  Some might say well that's an escape, isn't it? And my answer is so what? At least it's a harmless one, and it can lead to all kinds of marvelous things.  Something about being creative, or simply making something that comes out of your brain, heart, and soul, does a kind of healing job on you. Especially if you can let go of obsessing about the results.  I would encourage you, if you have yet to explore your creative self, to simply go for it. Make something. You can learn about the craft along the way if your interest in that thing continues to grow.  Not everything has to be fully understood before you attempt to create it.  

For me as a child, the creative world was a place where I could experiment with an idea without being held back by someone, at least at home.  And I am certain it helped to heal the many hurts I experienced, some profoundly painful.  As an adult, I can even create something from those painful memories, which many artists are doing. This practice helps to heal the artist and has the potential of helping others to heal as well.  In fact, it has the potential of bringing us closer together, because in the creative process we are opening ourselves to the possibility of unconditional love for ourselves.  And for each other.  

January 9th, 2023

On Social Activism

At some point in the earlier period of my career I had read that counselors are deeply concerned about social issues and want to contribute to social change. This is not surprising. Counselors are  making a difference touching lives one at time in the therapy room. The counselor/client relationship is unlike any other, as one colleague of mine pointed out, "it is a sacred relationship." However, I do believe in many of us, there still remains a feeling of needing to do more. This is why many counselors do pro bono work, social work, and get involved in social/political issues at least on a local level. Perhaps, counselors are social activists at heart.  One of my fantasies in my late twenties was to work for Amnesty International.  Although I did not pursue a degree in human rights' law, I did become a member, starting out as a writer in their Freedom Writers Program then solely a modest donor. I will always be a member of AI because my heart is driven toward protecting human rights. 

Though a counselor for almost 16 years, I still find myself needing to do more so I decided to write a book. That book is a fiction novel for middle grade and I am currently in my 5th year, revising and editing the manuscript with the help of a wonderful writing coach.  This manuscript addresses multiple social/emotional issues including domestic violence, abandonment, bullying, racism, queer phobia, and what a fellow-writer referred to as #MeToo when offering her feedback. It takes place in 1979 so the latter term did not exist but the story is indeed about #MeToo. One fellow writer, who meant well, suggested I pick only one or two issues because six heavy issues may be too much for the young reader.  I have yet to follow her well-meaning advice because in our world today children are quite aware of all these issues and many more.  

Children are learning fast about their world and it is unfortunate much of it is coming from the web where they are often in an environment that doesn't provide loving support while they process disturbing material they just witnessed on the screen.  What better place is there to help a child learn about social issues than through a book at home with a concerned and loving parent, or in the classroom with a warm and caring teacher? In conclusion, perhaps we are all social activists in some way or other.  I like to believe we all want to live meaningful lives and we spend a great deal of time and hard work figuring that out. My hope is that this blog post has spoken to you about yourself and inspires you to seek your own meaningful path.   

Call now for a 15 minute free consultation

Donna Andrus, LPC (she/her)

Phone: (307) 730-4793

Fax: (307) 241-5166

125 East Pearl Avenue

2nd floor

Jackson, WY 83001


Office Hours

Mon. 10:00 am. to 8:00 pm.

Tues. 10:00 am. to 8:00 pm.

Wed. 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Thur. 10:00 am. to 8:00 pm.

Fri. 10:00 am. to 8:00 pm.

Telecounseling for Wyoming and Idaho residents